DSI: Dig Scene Investigation

Help solve the case of the missing history. An archaeological dig may not have all the glitz and glamour of a TV police drama, but the clues you’ll gather and the evidence you’ll examine will have a real-life impact on our understanding of ancient cultures. Our annual guide to excavations can help you find the dig that’s right for you.

A View from the Caves
Who put the scrolls in there? By Sidnie White Crawford

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 11 caves in the Judean Desert near a site known as Khirbet Qumran, or the ruins of Qumran. Père Roland de Vaux of the École Biblique et Archéologique Française, who excavated the site in the 1950s, concluded that Qumran was a Jewish sectarian settlement, most probably Essene […]

Conversion, Crucifixion and Celebration
St. Philip’s Martyrium at Hierapolis draws thousands over the centuries By Francesco D’Andria

The apostle Philip was hung on a tree upside down with irons in his heels and ankles in Hierapolis in Asia Minor.

Egypt’s Chief Archaeologist Defends His Rights (and Wrongs)

On Sunday, January 16, I interviewed Zahi Hawass in his office in Zamalek, the elegant Cairene island in the Nile and home of the Gezira Sports Club, from which Hawass commanded an army of 32,000 employees as secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. The following Thursday, I left Egypt. And five days […]

Condemned to the Mines
Copper production & Christian persecution By Mohammad Najjar, Thomas E. Levy

Damnatio ad metalla—condemned to the mines! Tantamount to a death sentence.

Jerusalem Roundup

From Jerusalem’s earliest inscription to the discovery of Solomon’s fortifications, the city has been abuzz with archaeological activity. Our up-tothe-minute report puts the spotlight on these exciting new finds, as well as the projects and scholars who have brought them to light.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project

Gaby Barkay and Zachi Zweig have gone into business. Bring your excavated dirt to them for “wet sifting” and they will take care of it for you. Business is good.

Excarnation: Food For Vultures
Unlocking the mysteries of Chalcolithic ossuaries By Rami Arav

For nearly a century before the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 C.E., Jews, especially in the Jerusalem area, would inter the bones of their deceased in stone boxes, or ossuaries, about 2 feet long and a foot high. The ossuary had to be long enough to accommodate the longest bone in the body, […]

Wall of Solomon’s Royal City Identified

Mazar’s excavation is actually part of a larger excavation that had been directed by her grand-father Benjamin Mazar, once president of the Hebrew University and a leading Biblical scholar, historian and archaeologist. He excavated south of the southern wall of the Temple Mount for ten years beginning in 1968, but then passed away in 1995, […]

The Puzzling Pool of Bethesda
Where Jesus cured the crippled man By Urban C. von Wahlde

The Gospel of John recounts two healing miracles Jesus performed in Jerusalem. In one, Jesus cured a man who had been blind from birth. Jesus mixed his saliva with mud, applied the mixture to the blind man’s eyes and told him to bathe in the Pool of Siloam. When the man did so, he […]

Sifting Project Reveals City’s Earliest Writing

The small piece of inscribed clay has now been studied by leading Assyriologists Wayne Horowitz and Takayoshi Oshima, who report that it is a fragment of a 14th-century B.C.E. tablet, making it the oldest writing ever discovered in Jerusalem, predating the previous contender, the famous Siloam Tunnel inscription, by at least 600 years!1 The fragment […]

Hercules in Galilee

Sometimes nature is a better archaeological excavator than humans.

Well-Hidden Ivories Surface at Nimrud

Ivories from Nimrud VI: Ivories from the North West Palace (1845–1992)

Where Was Solomon’s Palace?

We know where King David’s city was. It was on the little 10–12-acre ridge south of the Temple Mount, just outside the Old City walls. On this all are agreed. This little ridge is still called the City of David.

The Birth & Death of Biblical Minimalism

“Biblical minimalism,” as it is known, has gone through a number of permutations in the recent past. Its modern career began about 30 years ago, when BAR was still a youngster. Since then it has been part of the ongoing debate regarding the extent to which historical data are embedded in the Hebrew Bible.

Crossing the Holy Land
New church discoveries from the Biblical world By Dorothy Resig

A few years ago the archaeological world, not to mention the popular press, was abuzz with news that an early Christian church had been discovered on the grounds of an Israeli prison at Megiddo. As BAR reported in an article by archaeologist Vassilios Tzaferis, the structure featured mosaics with Christian symbols such as fish […]

Tainted Stone Oil Lamp Authenticated

In 2001 or early 2002, we were asked, but declined, to publish an article about an unusual ancient oil lamp. The lamp has surfaced once again in the archaeological world. So I now describe it in the present tense:

Fudging with Forgeries
A closer look at Professor Yuval Goren’s “scholarship” By Hershel Shanks

I must confess at the outset that I should be disqualified from writing this piece because its subject, Professor Yuval Goren of Tel Aviv University, has charged me with playing a “pivotal role” in the forgeries alleged in the so-called forgery trial of the century, now awaiting decision in a Jerusalem court. My involvement […]

In Search of Herod’s Tomb

Josephus tells us that the site of Herodium was the final resting place of the skilled builder and hated king Herod the Great, but Josephus failed to identify the exact location of the tomb. For 35 years, Herod’s tomb eluded archaeologist Ehud Netzer. Finally in 2007 a ruined mausoleum and a smashed sarcophagus were uncovered, providing the long-sought answer. But excavations at Herod’s magnificent eponymous desert retreat have now revealed much more, including a royal theater box with colorful paintings.

New Synagogue Excavations In Israel and Beyond

2It seems like almost everywhere archaeologists dig in the eastern Galilee these days, they are coming up with ancient synagogues.

Sharing the Wealth: Spoils of Christian Kings Enrich British Metal Detectorist and Land Owner

In March 2009, Terry Herbert was metal detecting in a field in Staffordshire in the middle of England, just north of Birmingham. When his detector gave a beep, he dug down and retrieved what he originally thought was the brass key plate from a lock. He soon realized, however, it was not bronze but […]

Solomon’s Temple in Context

Although the Bible gives a detailed description of Solomon’s Temple, we have no physical remains of the building destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E. Thanks to the recent excavation of several hitherto-unknown ancient Near Eastern temples, however, archaeologists are shedding new light on similarities and differences between these temples and King Solomon’s structure.

The Origin of Israelite Sacrifice

Sacrificing animals to God—a major activity in the Temple—must certainly seem odd to us in the 21st century. Where did the practice come from? The Israelites didn’t invent it.

“Revolt” Coins Minted on Temple Mount

The Royal Stoa at the southern end of Herod’s Temple Mount was “a structure more noteworthy than any under the sun,” according to Josephus. And when the First Jewish Revolt broke out in 66 C.E., this magnificent building became a hub for rebel coin minting

Why Paul Went West
The differences between the Jewish diasporas By Doron Mendels

The Jewish diaspora in Roman times and Late Antiquity was not just a scattering of people from the Land of Israel. Geographical, cultural, religious and language differences resulted in two distinct diasporas—western and eastern—which helps explain why Paul went west from Jerusalem.

Isaiah Among the Scrolls

In 011, more than 60 years after the first seven Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by the Bedouin in what became known as Qumran Cave 1, a splendid new edition of the Great Isaiah Scroll—1QIsaa, in more technical language—has been published in the official scroll series, Discoveries in the Judaean Desert (DJD). It is […]

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri
The Remarkable Discovery You’ve Probably Never Heard Of By Stephen J. Patterson

Discovered in the Egyptian desert over a century ago, the Oxyrhynchus Papyri have provided invaluable insights into the life and times of an early Roman Christian community of the Nile Valley. As our author explains, these priceless documents, which include everything from little-known gospels to revealing personal letters, intimately portray the beliefs and daily lives of ordinary Romans and Christians, making them one of the greatest archaeological finds ever.

Philistine Cult Stands
Yavneh yields over a hundred Philistine cult stands

Long known as the birthplace of rabbinic Judaism in the first century C.E., Yavneh is rich in both Jewish and Christian history. We now know that a Philistine temple was located here as well: Recent excavations have produced thousands of eighth-century B.C.E. Philistine cult objects—all found in a repository pit in a single 5-square-meter excavation. What still lies buried here?

Bagram, Afghanistan
Nasca, Peru
Chiriqui province, Panama
Balu‘a, Jordan
Zincirli, Turkey


The Bible in the News
30 A.D.—A Miraculous Vintage By Leonard J. Greenspoon
Exhibit Watch
Celebrating Multiculturalism at Dura-Europos